Infection Immunology

Infection Immunology

Infectious diseases still represent a key global health problem. In Europe, lower respiratory tract infections caused for example by Streptococcus pneumoniae are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, despite the availability of vaccines against this pathogen. Additionally, the rise in infections with multi-resistant bacteria, e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, represents a constant threat for our society. Under the roof of the Institute of Infection Immunology, researchers led by Prof. Dr. Tim Sparwasser are investigating several key aspects of infection biology. This includes a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions and the mechanisms that activate and regulate the infection-induced immune response. In addition, they explore the genetic background and the molecular processes of infection-associated immune responses and, most importantly, they search for novel ways of modulating the immune response, which finally aims to translate the findings of this basic research into clinical applications.

Advances in modern medicine, specifically in the area of transplantation and intensive care have greatly enhanced life expectancies in western countries, but also lead to a recurrence of opportunistic (e.g. CMV and Candida) and hospital-acquired (e.g. Clostridium difficile) infections that pose serious problems to our medical system. Additional challenges of the ageing European society comprise autoimmunity and cancer. These main challenges share the common root cause of being inadequate T cell-driven immune responses.

Vaccinations are considered one of the biggest success stories in medicine and can guarantee long-term sustainability and efficiency. However, the identification of better adjuvants, particularly for T cell immunity, would address one of the largest unmet clinical needs. Novel vaccines, especially against extensively drug-resistant bacteria such as mycobacteria, remain a major challenge. A new approach rather than focusing on the pathogen itself is the concept of ‘immunomodulation’. The identification and characterization of novel microbiota-derived metabolites which directly influence the host’s immune reaction offer novel therapeutic ways to shorten chemotherapy or to reduce immunopathology in infection or inflammatory disease.

News

28. June 2018

Long-chain fatty acids don't influence the formation of immune cells

[Translate to English:] T-Zellen sind die Wächter unseres Immunsystems. Sie zirkulieren in großer Zahl in unserem Blut und erst wenn sie benötigt werden, bilden sie ihre jeweilige Spezialfunktion aus – beispielsweise zur...


13. April 2018

Impact of the immometabolism on the defence against tuberculosis

Dass der Fettsäurestoffwechsel die Funktion bestimmter Immunzellen beeinflusst – beispielsweise von T-Zellen – ist inzwischen bekannt und belegt. Aber welche konkrete Bedeutung haben Veränderungen im Metabolismus von Immunzellen...


06. April 2018

New immunization strategie against tuberculosis

Infektionen mit Mycobacterium tuberculosis gehören weltweit zu den häufigsten Todesursachen. Jedes Jahr infizieren sich nach Erhebungen der Weltgesundheitsorganisation WHO über zehn Millionen Menschen mit den Bakterien – etwa...


19. February 2018

New adjuvants derived from myxobacteria - HiLF stipend for Jenny Kühne

Dendritic Cells are of central importance for our immune system as they bridge the innate and the adaptive arm of our immunity. Not only are they very complex and of fascinating functional plasticity, Dendritic Cells are also...


01. December 2017

German-french DFG-ANR grant for Luciana Berod

Unser Immunsystem ist ein Orchester aus unterschiedlichsten Immunzellen, das uns im fein abgestimmten Zusammenspiel vor Krankheitserregern, Fremdstoffen und Fehlentwicklungen im Organismus schützt. Das funktioniert in der Regel...